Vancouver – A record 150 deceased organ donors gave the incredible gift of life in BC in 2021, 23 per cent more than the previous record of 122 donors (2018).
Organ donors helped more British Columbians than ever get a chance to live their lives more fully through transplant – a record 529 people received a transplant in 2021.
"Becoming an organ donor is an incredibly important decision that can save a life," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "The selfless acts of people around our province helps others get new leases on life, and I want to thank all those in B.C. who choose to become donors."
Russel Stevenson, a 58 year-old from Vernon who loved living in the Okanagan with his wife Sylvie and riding his motorcycle, donated his liver, pancreas, lungs, and both kidneys. Sylvie says that despite how difficult it was to lose him, it gives her comfort to think about the people Russel helped: "As much as I was hurting, I think about the recipients and their reaction when they got that call that an organ was available," she recalls. "I wish them all the best with their second chance at life and wish for them to take advantage of Russel's gifts."
Russel's organ donation contributed to several new transplant records last year - 66 lung transplants, 97 liver transplants, and 340 kidney transplants.
Rob Hammerschmidt, whose first kidney transplant was failing, is grateful to have received the call for a second transplant in 2021. "Because of my transplant I can get back to living my life to the fullest, not connected to a dialysis machine, and I look forward to start travelling the world again with my wife."
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, hospital-based critical care teams – which play a key role in identifying organ donors – referred potential donors to the 24/7 BC Transplant clinical referral line a record 775 times in 2021 (a 25 per cent increase over 2020). This demonstrates how organ donation is increasingly becoming a normal part of quality end-of-life care in hospital.
"Thank you to the hundreds of health professionals who work in a coordinated way across the province to champion and support organ donation and transplantation," says Eric Lun, BC Transplant's executive director. "In yet another extraordinary year, their combined efforts have given a record 529 transplant recipients the chance to improve or save their lives."
As of December 31, 2021, 585 people were still waiting for an organ transplant in BC. British Columbians are encouraged to take two minutes and register as an organ donor, then share their decision with family: www.taketwominutes.ca
BC Transplant's 2021 organ donation and transplant summary
BC Transplant's 2021 fact sheet
View Rob Hammerschmidt's full story
View Sylvie and Russel Stevenson's full story
See how organ donation works in BC:
For more information on becoming a donor and helping save lives, visit:
Manager, Communications & Community Relations
Provincial Health Services Authority
Media Line: 778.867.7472